Posted: Mar 12, 2013 7:28 PM by Victoria Fregoso - MTN News
Updated: Mar 13, 2013 9:33 AM
A typical 16-year-old country girl; that's how friends and family described Kenzie Zarn. But that all changed two summers ago when Kenzie and a friend went speeding down a dirt road and lost control of the vehicle.
Katie Zarn, Kenzie's cousin, recalled, "Kenzie was thrown from the vehicle through a barbed wire fence and from there was airlifted to the hospital in Great Falls." Kenzie survived the crash but now suffers from a traumatic brain injury.
An average of 1.7 milllion people are rushed to the hospital every year for traumatic brain injury, but not everyone survives. Michael Englehart, a trauma surgeon in Billings, said, "About 52,000 people a year die as a result, just from traumatic brain injury, as a result of part of their trauma."
Brain injuries can range from a concussion to more severe cases like Kenzie's. The leading causes are motor vehicle crashes, falling, assault, and sports.
Kenzie's decision to not wear a seat belt that day haunts her family. Katie said, "Put a seat belt on every time you get in the vehicle, no matter if you're just running two blocks away. Seat belts, seat belts, helmets. I mean, definitely protect your brain. It's not that hard. It's easy to prevent it."
Dr. Englehart said, "If you don't wear your helmet or don't wear your seat belt, you're much more likely to have a very significant injury, one that could permanently affect you the rest of your life."
Because of the severity of her injury, Kenzie doesn't qualify for therapy at rehab facilities, so she is being treated at home. Katie said, "Right now she's still in a vegetative state. She is aware of who is in the room with her. She makes facial expressions, she has, in the last two months, moved her arms on command."
Since Kenzie's accident, her family is raising awareness and helping others with traumatic brain injuries.
A number of events will take place over the next few months, including adult proms. One will be held in Lewistown on March 30, in Cut Bank on April 20, and in Roundup on May 4. In Billings, "Shake it for Kenzie and Brain Injuries" will take place on August 3 at ZooMontana.
To keep up with Kenzie's progress and updates on upcoming events, you can visit the Pray for Kenzie Zarn Facebook page by clicking here.